05 February 2011

Sturm und Drang Over the New Roman Missal

Unless you've been living in a tent for the past year, you should be aware that this fall on the First Sunday of Advent (27 November 2011), the Catholic Church in the United States will begin using a new translation of the Roman Missal, the book which contains all of the prayers needed to say Mass.


The new translation, the work of nearly a decade, is certainly not perfect, and the process used to reach the final product was perhaps not the best that could have been devised. Nevertheless, the new translation is certainly a great improvement over the "Sacramentary" that we've been using for forty years, a book that is not so much a translation of the Missale Romanum as it is an adaptation.


Now that we're in the home stretch of the process and parishes are beginning to study and practice the new texts, a few of the people who have been involved in preparing the new Missal but who did not get everything they wanted are beginning to hold their breath until they turn blue and fall down. That, at any rate, is how an open letter from Father Anthony Ruff, OSB to the bishops of the United States reads to me. This is simply petulant narcissism dressed up as noble protest of injustice. I regret that Father Anthony has chosen this forum to express these sentiments, not least because he has contributed in many ways over recent years to improving the celebration of the sacred liturgy in our country. But, I suspect that this sort of tantrum is to be expected in the final run-up to the new Missal, given the number of people who wanted a say in the work and didn't get what they wanted.


As for me and my house, we look forward to the new translation, even with all its imperfections, and I hope that in due course everyone will remember the purpose of the entire exercise: to celebrate more faithfully the sacred mysteries of our redemption in Jesus Christ.